Ministers will press ahead with total smoking ban, may take 18 months

The government will press ahead with a ban on smoking in all cafes and bars, including those under 70 m2 which are currently exempt, junior health minister Martin van Rijn is quoted as saying by Nos television.

Earlier a narrow majority of MPs backed a motion calling for a total ban. The exception for small bars without staff was brought in by the health department’s senior minister Edith Schippers.

Nevertheless, the change may require amendments to the tobacco law and this could take 18 months to complete, the junior minister said.

Small bars and cafes run by their owners have been exempt on the grounds that they have no staff. The Dutch smoking ban was introduced to protect workers rather than public health in general.

However, the ban, brought in nearly five years ago, is widely flouted in bigger bars, cafes and nightclubs.

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